Paperbacks doomed, says fiction writer John Connolly

The End is Nigh For Paperbacks. It could be the title of another novel by Irish crime writer John Connolly.

Paperbacks doomed, says fiction writer John Connolly

In fact, his latest offering is the Wolf in Winter, part of his Charlie Parker thriller series, and the doom of paperback books is fact, not fiction, says one of the country’s most successful writers.

It is 15 years since Charlie Parker became Ireland’s favourite fictional sleuth and the world of publishing has changed immeasurably since then.

“I am probably on two books a year now and that is the future for most writers,” Connolly declared yesterday. “There is simply not as much money there as it was,” he said, lamenting the trials of modern-day authors.

“I would not like to be starting out now as a writer. It would be very, very difficult. The future for most writers is that there will possibly be no advance and you are dealing just with royalties,” he told RTÉ’s John Murray.

“Even literary writers who by habit tend to produce at a more sedate pace, every three or four years, will have to produce more quickly if they are going to survive.”

Pointing to the closure of traditional bookstores in major markets like the US and the UK, Connolly is convinced that e-books will soon take over from paperbacks in mass market literature. “In 10 years’ time it will be very hard to find a paperback book.”

Hardbacks haven’t really suffered, he says, as collectors like to buy them and admire them on their bookshelves, although he forecasts they will become premium products and that the average hardback will cost more than it does now.

“You will pay a little extra for it and it might come signed,” he told Mr Murray. “You will probably get a download code or you download and the publisher will send you a hardback copy for free — a bit like now if you buy a DVD or a Blueray, it comes with a digital copy.

“With the Wolf in Winter, many of the early copies come with a CD of music. We can’t expect people to pay twice for something and I think we will get used to it.”

When his book Wrath of Angels was published two years ago it was five hardbacks to one e-book. It is now two hardbacks to one e-book.

The most problematical result of this change is that writers are finding it impossible to find out their readership figures, says Connolly.

“One of the difficulties is that we don’t know how many e-books are being sold because Amazon refuses to release figures. They say that is proprietary information and they don’t want their competitors to get it.”

Paperpack writers


1. The Fault In Our Stars — John Green (Penguin Books)

2. Mistress — James Patterson (Arrow Books)

3. The Spinning Heart — Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)

4. The Cuckoo’s Calling — Robert Galbraith (Sphere)

5. Wedding Night — Sophie Kinsella (Black Swan)


1. Unravelling Oliver — Liz Nugent (Penguin)

2. Survivor — Lesley Pearse (Penguin)

3. Be Careful What You Wish For: The Clifton Chronicles — Jeffrey Archer (Macmillan)

4. A Husband’s Confession — Zoe Miller (Hachette Books Ireland)

5. First We Take Manhattan — Colette Caddie (Simon and Schuster)

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